Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 23, 2016

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Aug

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 23, 2016

On August 23, 1784, four counties is western North Carolina declared themselves the State of Franklin, setting up its own Constitution and treaties with local Indian tribes. In 1788, they rejoined North Carolina but would eventually become part of a new state, Tennessee.

The Kimball Opera House, serving as the Georgia State Capitol, was sold to the state on August 23, 1870.

On August 23, 1961, four African-American citizens attempted to play tennis at Bitsy Grant Tennis Center in Atlanta, which was informally “whites only.” The Tennis Center was hastily closed rather than allow them to play, but it was the first volley leading to the eventual desegregation of Atlanta’s public recreation facilities.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Here’s your morning awesome if you haven’t already seen the young man with Down Syndrome opening his acceptance letter from UGA.

A federal judge in Texas ruled against the Obama administration’s directive that schools must provide students with a choice of restroom that matches the student’s gender identity.

U.S. District Court Judge Reed O’Connor of Texas ordered a temporary injunction on Sunday of the federal government’s guidelines announced in May. The guidelines included a warning that states could lose federal funding if they did not adhere to the policy. Georgia and 12 other states, including Texas, filed a lawsuit in late May against the federal guidelines, arguing the threat to withhold federal funds for states that didn’t comply was unconstitutional.

“We are pleased that the federal court agrees that the guidance letter is yet another example of the President’s unconstitutional overreach,” [Georgia Attorney General Sam] Olens said in a statement. “The Constitution gives only Congress the power to write and rewrite laws. Threatening to withhold taxpayer dollars from schools if they don’t comply with this mandate is unconstitutional. I will continue to defend the Constitution on behalf of Georgians.”

Another day in Georgia, another drive-by media hit suggesting that Hillary Clinton can win in Georgia this November.

Here’s how the Democratic argument for the state works: Georgia, like its neighbors North Carolina and Virginia, is becoming younger and more diverse. In 2000, for example, African American voters made up 23 percent of the electorate; in 2012, that figure was up to 30 percent. The state also has a growing Hispanic population.

Democrats say their floor in the state hovers these days around 44 or 45 percent. If Clinton can reach Obama-level turnout among minority voters, that could get her another percentage point or two on Election Day—and coupled with the potential for modest gains among white, educated, moderate Republicans who are turned off by Trump, a narrow victory is not out of the question.

“There’s not really any growth potential for [Trump] with the white working class voters because they’ve already been aligned with Republicans,” said Jeff DeSantis, a veteran Democratic operative in the state who ran Michelle Nunn’s 2014 Senate campaign.

The problem for Democrats is that the state’s white voters, more so than in states with similar demographics, like North Carolina or Virginia, vote heavily for Republicans. In other words, Clinton couldn’t depend just on turning out the growing numbers of African American and Hispanic voters; she would also have to win a significantly higher percentage of the white vote there than Mr. Obama did in either of his campaigns.

In a normal presidential cycle, these suburban moderate Republicans would be rank-and-file Republican voters; Democrats’ success depends on a rejection of Trump that’s so overwhelming that it drives substantial numbers of these moderates toward the other options. Otherwise, a statewide victory for Clinton will be difficult.

“Anything is in the realm of possibility—I mean, in 1992 Bill Clinton won Georgia because of [independent candidate] Ross Perot,” said Eric Tannenblatt, a veteran Republican consultant who worked with Mitt Romney’s campaign in 2012. “But that being said, every other presidential election going back the last 30 years, with the exception of that one in 1992, the Republican has won—even in 1996 when Bill Clinton was running for re-election.”

Emory University historian Joseph Crespino weighs-in with his perspective on how Georgia might be in play this year.

[T]his story has less to do with the future than the past, and both parties run a risk in misreading it. Mr. Trump’s racially charged hard-right campaign reveals a fault line in Republican politics that dates from the very beginning of G.O.P. ascendancy in the South.

The Republican’s Southern Strategy is one of the most familiar stories in modern American history: Beginning in the 1960s, the party courted white racist voters who fled the Democratic Party because of its support for civil rights.

But things were never quite so simple. Yes, racial reaction fed G.O.P. gains in the 1960s and ’70s. And yes, Barry Goldwater called it “hunting where the ducks are.”

What did that mean? Goldwater’s detractors understood it to mean that he was going after Dixiecrats, the Southern Democrats who had abandoned the party in 1948 over civil rights. Goldwater, however, maintained that he was going after college-educated white collar professionals who were building the modern Southern economy.

That was the vision he described in his speech at the Georgia Republican Convention in May 1964. G.O.P. success in the South, he argued, stemmed from “the growth in business, the increase in per capita income and the rising confidence of the South in its own ability to expand industrially and commercially.” Southern Republicanism, he said, was based on “truly progressive elements.”

Goldwater had a point. It was Southern businessmen who grew the party in the 1950s. Democrats, they said, were the party of corruption and cronyism. These Republicans even worked together with black Republicans, who since the 19th century had been the Southern G.O.P.’s most loyal constituency.

That was the vision he described in his speech at the Georgia Republican Convention in May 1964. G.O.P. success in the South, he argued, stemmed from “the growth in business, the increase in per capita income and the rising confidence of the South in its own ability to expand industrially and commercially.” Southern Republicanism, he said, was based on “truly progressive elements.”

Yet this year that mixture may not work. Mr. Trump’s extreme language and divisive policies are alienating moderate Republicans in places like the Atlanta exurbs — where Mrs. Clinton is running nearly even with Mr. Trump. And across the state, polls show a significantly low number of Republicans saying they’ll support their party’s candidate.

It’s an excellent piece that I highly recommend reading in its entirety.

State Rep. Allen Peake (R-Macon) spoke to the AJC about misgivings he has over Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

“Every time he says something that makes me cringe, or something that appears to be indecent, it makes me wonder how in the world can I vote for this guy,” said state Rep. Allen Peake, a Macon Republican. “I keep having to come back to the Supreme Court nominations. But, boy, it scares the bejeebies out of me — the thought that he could actually be the president.”

Trump’s decision to hire Stephen K. Bannon, the anti-establishment chief of Breitbart News, didn’t reassure supporters hoping for a pivot away from his firebrand ways. Nor did his rare expression of regret for his rhetoric, or the resignation of campaign chairman Paul Manafort, whose previous job consulting for the pro-Russian former president of Ukraine had become a distraction.

“It makes me worry more because it appears they are doubling down on letting Trump be Trump,” Peake said.

An yesterday, Peake doubled-down, sending out his manifesto.

The reality is that Donald Trump as our nominee makes me incredibly fearful for the future of our party. We have alienated Hispanics and African-Americans, both groups who would support us if we stuck to an agenda focused on jobs and the economy. We have made ourselves enemies of the gay community. And from discussions with my gay brother, many would support us, because many are moderate on social issues but fiscally conservative.

And millennials have written us off because of our stances on issues like medical marijuana and gay marriage. So, as a party, we are basically working ourselves toward extinction. And if we don’t do some soul searching and make efforts to reach out to these groups, that’s where we end up.

Senator David Perdue told the Gwinnett Daily Post that Trump will bring a new perspective to Washington.

The first-term senator has become an ardent supporter of the New York businessman since Trump clinched the GOP’s nomination.

For Republicans who have been eager to repeal the Affordable Care Act, the prospect of having someone from their own party in the White House is a glimmer of hope that they may finally achieve their goal.

“I believe that if we keep the majority in the Senate, we’ll repeal Obamacare early next year like we did this year,” Perdue said. “The difference will be that President Trump wouldn’t veto it, so Obamacare is gone. That will happen.”

Although there have several reports in recent weeks about polls that peg Trump as trailing Hillary Clinton in several places, including Georgia, Perdue is confident the Republican nominee will prove the pollsters wrong come November.

He pointed to his own experience running against Michelle Nunn to replace Saxby Chambliss in the Senate as an example. Nearly every poll in the weeks leading up to the General Election that year had Perdue and Nunn neck and neck with margins of two to four points, according to records kept by RealClearPolitics.com.

Perdue won by about eight points.

“I don’t accept the premise that he’s lagging to the degree that the national polls say,” Perdue said of Trump. “What’s going on around the country is exactly what went on in Georgia in my race … There was a significant error in our race and it was because the polls were inaccurate.”

Whether you agree or disagree with Sen. Perdue on Donald Trump’s candidacy, it’s worth reading the entire interview, which covers a broad range of national issues.

WABE looks at how rural healtcare is faring after the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).

Georgia health officials painted a dire pictures of the state’s rural hospital network for state lawmakers Monday, with more cuts predicted as the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, continues to roll out.

About 40 percent of the state’s hospitals lost money in 2014, according to the Georgia Hospital Association’s most recent figures.

James told lawmakers that a host of coming cuts at the federal level could reduce payments to Georgia’s hospitals by $1.5 billion annually by 2025.

The head of the Senate committee, Republican state Sen. Renee Unterman, reiterated her stance that expanding Medicaid coverage is something lawmakers should consider next session.

“I believe it is a tool in the tool box, and we are facing the perfect tsunami, just like every other state in the nation, with a crisis in health care. And I think it’s our fiduciary responsibility to leave that tool box open,” Unterman said. “When you’re in a tsunami, when you’re in a crisis … you don’t say no to anything.”

Georgia Senate Rules Committee Chair Jeff Mullis (R-Upper Left-Hand Corner) will take on additional responsibilities chairing study committees.

Lt. Governor Casey Cagle selected Sen. Jeff Mullis (R- Chickamauga) to serve as Co-Chair of three Joint Study Committees and as Chair of two Senate Study Committees. Sen. Mullis will act as Co-Chair of the State Commission on Narcotic Treatment Programs, the Alternative Fuels Infrastructure and Vehicle Joint Study Committee and the Music Economic Development Joint Study Committee. In addition, Sen. Mullis will serve as Chair of the Senate Legislative Process Study Committee and the Senate Sexual Offender Registry Study Committee.

“I look forward to addressing and thoroughly reviewing each of these important issues with my colleagues,” said Sen. Mullis. “Our number one priority is the wellbeing, success and growth of all of our citizens. We will work hard the next few months to bring the best legislative recommendations to the table for each of these issues and ensure that the best interest of our citizens are represented. It is an honor to be appointed to these study committees.”

“Sen. Jeff Mullis has a proven track record in addressing the needs of our citizens and will be an invaluable resource as Co-Chair of three Joint Study Committees and as Chair of two Senate Study Committees,” said Lt. Governor Casey Cagle. “I’m confident he will examine the issues at hand and provide new legislative recommendations to the General Assembly as we prepare for the 2017 Legislative Session.”

The Albany Herald reports that independent (Democratic) House District 151 candidate Kenneth Zachary Jr. has a disorderly conduct charge from 2004.

Zachary, 46, the pastor of three small Southwest Georgia churches and a former Arlington City Council member, announced his independent candidacy for the state House seat after Democrat James Williams, a former Albany police officer, was disqualified from running for the seat held for 33 years by Cuthbert Republican Gerald Greene.

“Southwest Georgia’s enthusiasm for my campaign is both humbling and inspiring,” Zachary said after his candidacy was confirmed. “I know the people of this community are ready for a leader who will fight to bring health care and jobs to thousands of our residents by working to expand Medicaid.

“Voters deserve a choice at the ballot box, and I plan on winning their support with a platform of strong Democratic values.”

But court documents obtained by The Herald show that Zachary, at age 34, pleaded guilty to a charge of disorderly conduct in 2004. He was indicted by a Dougherty County Grand Jury in May 2004 on a charge of terroristic threats in connection to an incident in which he was accused of throwing eggs at a car, acting “in disregard of the risk of causing such terror and inconvenience” in the incident that involved a woman and two small children, ages 4 and 6. The charge was reduced to disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor.

Amber Patterson will take the bench as a Judge in Cobb County Juvenile Court.

For the past five years, Patterson has represented children as a guardian ad litem attorney — for custody cases — in the Cobb Juvenile Court. She also has experience in the Cobb County Family Dependency Court.

Cobb Superior Court Chief Judge Stephen Schuster said Patterson’s experience in those courts gives her the necessary practical experience and knowledge for the position.

“Her background, combined with her passion for children, will make her an exemplary juvenile court judge,” Schuster said.

File this under Obamacare: Blue Cross Blue Shield may raise rates on Georgia consumers.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia says it is reassessing the premium increases it has previously proposed for the state health insurance exchange, with an eye to revising them upward.

This comes in the wake of Aetna’s pullout from the exchange here.

Blue Cross, the state’s largest health insurer, reiterated its stance that it will remain in Georgia’s exchange next year. But it won’t have much time to readjust its rate proposal.

Blue Cross’ proposed increases currently average from 9.1 percent to 14.8 percent.

Blue Cross is the only statewide insurer in the exchange, and figures to pick up many of the estimated 70,000 to 90,000 Georgia Aetna members who will have to choose new plans during the fall open enrollment. Aetna had exchange health plans across almost all of the state.

The Aetna pullout from Georgia and 10 other exchanges, announced this week, has rattled supporters of the Affordable Care Act. That comes after UnitedHealthcare’s exit here and elsewhere.

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